I spent the past few days attending NI Week 2018 in Austin, Texas, where thousands of engineers, companies, and researchers convened to learn about the latest on software-centric platforms for accelerating development and increasing productivity in test, measurement, and control systems. There was no shortage of seminars, workshops, and exhibitors, which unveiled some of the industry’s latest and most innovative concepts, products, and industrial system formats. While the show had many alluring trends, I was particularly drawn to the different ways companies like National Instruments (the event’s sponsor), and AASA have incorporated technologies like augmented reality (AR) with the Internet-of-Things (IoT) to make industrial systems and even cybersecurity analysis operate smoother for workers.For example, manufacturing companies rely on operational equipment to keep running. Obtaining data from machines and turning it into information helps businesses better understanding not only when, but which particular component is going to fail, enabling operators to maintain these systems more efficiently. Traditionally, a subject matter expert would make their way around the plant floor and rely on their senses to determine whether a particular system or component was going to fail.
National Instruments began utilizing dashboards for assembling this type of information into an IoT-based cloud connected system that gives managers a better view of their entire asset fleet. Using a pump system as an example, its cloud garners information from six different sensors, and sends this content to analytics software, where it’s converted from high-speed raw data into information that give approximate warnings like a bearing about to fail in three weeks. The demonstration also simulated instances like pulling a hinge to induce a shaft alignment fault, which wears on the pump system’s bearing. At first, the software will show green, indicating “everything is fine”, but shift to red, which informs the operator that they must turn this plant off or else it will shut down on its own in an uncontrolled state. The pump was turned on, and brought up to a steady state, where the indicators were green on the monitor.
Once the lever is pulled, you can clearly hear the shaft misalignment wearing on the bearings, which induces a lot of vibration. The software not only detects these anomalies, but can also review analytics and output of the engine’s prognostics, notifying the operator that usable life at the running pump has dramatically decreased. This information helps operators avoid system failures by taking the pump out of service because it completely fails.
This isn’t necessarily about understanding what assets will fail using IoT technology, but assisting operators once they arrive on site—something that can be shown with an iPad. In this demonstration, the iPad monitor is supposed to represent a heads-up display built into a visor that gives a technician access to all sensor data built into the pump system, along with an exploding cad model of the actual pump. When it comes to replacing the bearing, the operator can be guided through a manual-type step using augmented reality that’s displayed on the built-in visor.
Another example of collaboration between AR and the IoT can be seen in extracting data using a concept called visible light positioning (VLP). AASA is using a 3D VLP solution that utilizes LED lights and connected technologies like smartphone cameras and Bluetooth. This procedure offers highly accurate levels (<8 cm and <3 degrees in orientation), providing real-time localization in under 34 milliseconds. VLP can be used in an array of applications from airports, museums, and retail to helping the visually impaired navigate, indoor robots and drones, along with virtual and augmented reality.
Mobile-based VR and AR applications show how mobile devices like smartphones can be used for an operator-friendly experience. The VLP system uses cameras from mobile devices like smartphones to track modulated light signals generated by small-cost electronic regulators integrated with the light-emitting device. The volumetric tracking generated through this combination is fast and accurate enough to assimilate head movements within the conventional VR/AR rendering pipeline without specific hardware requirements. Location refresh rates are higher than 30 times per second, with a positioning precision of <8 cm and 3 degrees in orientation.
Now insert LiFi, a bidirectional high-speed and fully networked VLC technology that uses light to transfer signals and information instead of RF signals. LiFi, a new smart lighting technology, has been developed in response to the challenges of high-speed, secure, and high bandwidth communication, relieving the load of existing RF and microwave wireless networks by powering visible photons for light generation and optical communication. AASA’s LiFi communication solution demonstration defines a functional safety and cybersecurity platform, addressing the universal automotive principles of safety violations resulting from cybersecurity compromises.
Using a semi-autonomous CompactRIO as an example, abilities like braking, steering, safety, and security information for the vehicle is sent to the visible light communication driver of the car headlight. The light has been modulated by the driver to transmit this data, which is then received by the mobile device. An augmented reality app on the device simultaneously displays the received information from different light sources, also identifying, unwanted light and unauthenticated sources.
Filed Under: Cybersecurity, M2M (machine to machine)